By Matt Capps
Have you ever considered thanksgiving a spiritual discipline? It sounds a bit strange, but I believe that the discipline of giving thanks is one of the greatest assets we have in our spiritual lives.
One of the easiest ways to apply this truth is to consider Paul’s command in 1 Thessalonians 5:18: “Give thanks in everything.” Paul cannot possibly mean everything, can he? What about the times in life when we lack peace? What about the times in our lives when our weaknesses are painfully exposed? What about the times when someone causes us to suffer? Really, Paul? Are we to rejoice under those circumstances too? Are we to do good to others, even when they have done harm to us?
The apostle Paul is perfectly clear in his command to give thanks in everything. In fact, he says, “This is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (v.18). It is God’s will for us to give thanks, even in situations where we might be tempted to do otherwise. I believe the key to this God-honoring mindset of thanksgiving is found at the end of verse 21: “Hold on to what is good.” This is not a simple motivational speech but rather a call to consider the work of God in the midst of our trials.
When we lack peace, the only one to whom we can turn is the God of peace. When our weaknesses are exposed, we can rejoice that God’s grace is sufficient for us. When others cause us to suffer, we have the opportunity to offer forgiveness and grace. In responding in these ways, we not only glorify God, but we also make His goodness known among the people around us.
The discipline of thanksgiving is a powerful tool for maintaining a godly perspective. It shows we trust in God’s providential care. In life’s darkest moments, the peace thanksgiving cultivates in our hearts can pierce through overwhelming discouragement and despair.
Learn to fight with thanksgiving, in any situation. Consider the good providence of God, even in your darkest moments. Thanksgiving may not deliver us out of difficulty, but God can certainly use it to deliver us through difficulty.